Big Picture Science

Sunday, 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. on KUOW2

The Big Picture Science radio show and podcast engages the public with modern science research through lively and intelligent storytelling. Science radio doesn't have to be dull. The only dry thing about our program is the humor.

Big Picture Science takes on big questions by interviewing leading researchers and weaving together their stories of discovery in a clever and off-kilter narrative style.

Composer ID: 
5182a733e1c8bbce02e2bf0f|5182a70fe1c89ec2617cc30a

Podcasts

  • Monday, July 21, 2014 12:00am

    The stars are out tonight. And they do more than just twinkle. These boiling balls of hot plasma can tell us something about other celestial phenomena. They betray the hiding places of black holes, for one. But they can also fool us. Find out why one of the most intriguing discoveries in astrobiology – that of the potentially habitable exoplanet Gliese 581g – may have been just a mirage.

    Plus, the highest levels of ultraviolet light ever mentioned on Earth’s surface puzzles scientists: is it a fluke of nature, or something manmade?

    And a physicist suggests that stars could be used by advanced aliens to send hailing signals deep into space.

    Guests:

    • Paul Robertson – Postdoctoral fellow, Penn State Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds
    • Mike Joner – Research professor of astronomy at Brigham Young University
    • Nathalie Cabrol – Planetary scientist, SETI Institute
    • Anthony Zee – Theoretical physicist at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara

    Descripción en español

  • Monday, July 14, 2014 12:00am

    ENCORE Face it – humans are pattern-seeking animals. We identify eyes, nose and mouth where there are none. Martian rock takes on a visage and the silhouette of Elvis appears in our burrito. Discover the roots of our face-tracking tendency – pareidolia – and why it sometimes leads us astray.

    Plus, why some brains can’t recognize faces at all … how computer programs exhibit their own pareidolia … and why it’s so difficult to replicate human vision in a machine

    Guests:

    • Phil Plait – Astronomer, Skeptic, and author of Slate Magazine’s blog Bad Astronomy
    • Josef Parvizi – Associate professor, Stanford University, and clinical neurologist and epilepsy specialist at Stanford Medical Center
    • Nancy Kanwisher – Cognitive neuroscientist, at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT
    • Greg Borenstein – Artist, creative technologist who teaches at New York University
    • Pietro Perona – Professor of electrical engineering, computation and neural systems, California Institute of Technology

    Descripción en español

    First released February 25, 2013.

  • Monday, July 7, 2014 12:00am

    ENCORE Think back, way back. Beyond last week or last year … to what was happening on Earth 100,000 years ago. Or 100 million years ago. It’s hard to fathom such enormous stretches of time, yet to understand the evolution of the cosmos – and our place in it – your mind needs to grasp the deep meaning of eons. Discover techniques for thinking in units of billions of years, and how the events that unfold over such intervals have left their mark on you.

    Plus: the slow-churning processes that turned four-footed creatures into the largest marine animals that ever graced the planet and using a new telescope to travel in time to the birth of the galaxies.

    Guests:

    Descripción en español

    First released April 22, 2013.

  • Monday, June 30, 2014 12:00am

    ENCORE It’s hard to get lost these days. GPS pinpoints your location to within a few feet. Discover how our need to get from A to B holds clues about what makes us human, and what we lose now that every digital map puts us at the center.

    Plus, stories of animal navigation: how a cat found her way home across Florida, and the magnetic navigation systems used by salmon and sea turtles.

    Also, why you’ll soon be riding in driverless cars. And, how to map our universe.

    Guests:

    Descripción en español

    First released March 18, 2013.

  • Monday, June 23, 2014 12:00am

    You are surrounded by products. Most of them, factory-made. Yet there was a time when building things by hand was commonplace, and if something stopped working, well, you jumped into the garage and fixed it, rather than tossing it into the circular file.

    Participants at the Maker Faire are bringing back the age of tinkering, one soldering iron and circuit board at a time. Meet the 12-year old who built a robot to solve his Rubik’s Cube, and learn how to print shoes at home. Yes, “print.”

    Plus, the woman who started Science Hack Day … the creation of a beard-slash-cosmic-ray detector … the history of the transistor … and new materials that come with nervous systems: get ready for self-healing concrete.

    (Photo is a model of the first transistor built in 1947 at the Bell Telephone Labs in New Jersey that led to a Nobel Prize. Today’s computers contain many million transistors … but they’re a lot smaller than this one, which is about the size of a quarter. Credit: Seth Shostak.)

    Guests:

    Descripción en español